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The Reports of the Commissioners appointed to enquire into the state of Education in Wales. 1847

This report was published by three English university scholars into the educational system in Wales. The three were Lingen, Symons and Vaughan Johnson. The report unfairly drew attention to the inadequacy of Welsh education . One of their main points was that Welsh children , and often their teachers too, could not speak English. The report was produced in blue books, hence the name. Apart from , and because of, the understandable outrage of Welsh people the report helped to forge a  greater sense of national identity and the publication was referred to as "The Treachery of the Blue Books" [Brad y Llyfrau Gleison]. One of the principal Welshmen who fought a campaign against the report was Evan Jones , better known as Ieuan Gwynedd, a  minister and a journalist . One of the report's statements was that Welsh was a " peculiar language isolating the masses from the upper portion of society". Sadly, for the Welsh language, faced with such criticism many people did opt for an education in the English language despite the efforts of Ieuan Gwynedd and others. [ Based on an article in"A Helping Hand "by W J Jones 1996]

This is an extract by Aidan Jones from the actual Report as far as it relates to this parish;

SILIAN

Baptist Chapel School - On Sunday, November 1st, I visited the above parish. The only school in the parish was a Sunday School, held in the Baptist chapel (Bethel). The school was mostly composed of adults, who read to teach each other Welsh, and catechised each other, as well as endeavouring to explain passages of Scripture, The few children who were there I requested the teacher to form into a class, and I heard them react to him the 1st chapter of St. John's Gospel, which they did in a very imperfect manner, hesitating at almost every word. The teacher merely stood by to listen.

I heard them make several false pronunciations, but the teacher did not attempt to correct them, neither did he ask any questions upon what they had been reading, nor endeavour to make them understand what they had read. I afterwards examined them, and got the following in answer to questions:- Had heard of Jesus Christ; he was the Son of God. Had heard he came on earth , did not know for what purpose. One had heard of the Apostles; did not know what they were. Had never heard of the disciples. Mary was the mother of our Saviour; did not know what Mary - thought Mary Magdalene. Christ was crucified when on earth, which meant to be nailed to a tree. Had heard that one of Christ's disciples denied him: it was Peter; he afterwards repented. Peter died ; he was not put to death. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Christ; did not know what became of him. There were twelve Apostles ; one of them betrayed Christ-it was Judas Iscariot. Christ was crucified by the Jews on Mount Calvary, did not know where Mount Calvary was. There were four Evangelists; knew their names. John the Evangelist and John the Baptist were the same person. The rest of the school were children who were in letters and monosyllables [sic].

On my way through the parish I met two boys watching cattle. One of them, about 9 years old, had never been to church or chapel; the other, about 11 years old, thought he had been once last year. The first had never heard of God. -Did not know whether he had a son or not, or whether he came upon earth. Had never heard of the Apostles or disciples. His father and mother never spoke to him about such beings.

(Signed) DAVID LEWIS, Assistant

 

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(Gareth Hicks)

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